Why Hobbiest find Discus fish Demanding!

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Mazain

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Hi,
I bought a School of Melon Discus fish from a Breeder for my Planted Fish Tank Yesterday. The Reason what Inspired me was a friend who shared the same Passion but doesn't have the Time to keep them. Usually I put my hand in the tank to replant all the floating stems however, now I can't put my hand cause the Discus get stressed. Sometimes they school sometimes some are missing hiding. I had to even switch off the LED light till they get used to the Environment.
Can anyone give me some Insights on keeping New Arrival Discus and what changes to a planted tank setup needs to be done.
 

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Those are very young juveniles. Generally, the younger they are the larger the group they should be kept in. You are likely to experience behavioral issues, though predicting discus behavior is a bit like predicting the weather. The other issues are that plants and discus don't do well together. It's possible to keep discus in a planted tank, but it's difficult and requires a lot of maintenance. Discus prefer very warm water that most plants won't tolerate. This is especially true when they're young. For optimal growth you need to keep the water at 30C or higher.

Also, you need to feed young discus frequently, otherwise they're going to grow stunted. This means frequent water changes and frequent vacuuming of the substrate. For all the reasons I've mentioned, the majority of discus keepers grow out their juveniles in bare bottom aquariums.

On a final note, growing out young juvenile discus in a community tank also increases the likelihood of behavioral problems, especially when the other fish are larger and faster moving.
 
Those are very young juveniles. Generally, the younger they are the larger the group they should be kept in. You are likely to experience behavioral issues, though predicting discus behavior is a bit like predicting the weather. The other issues are that plants and discus don't do well together. It's possible to keep discus in a planted tank, but it's difficult and requires a lot of maintenance. Discus prefer very warm water that most plants won't tolerate. This is especially true when they're young. For optimal growth you need to keep the water at 30C or higher.

Also, you need to feed young discus frequently, otherwise they're going to grow stunted. This means frequent water changes and frequent vacuuming of the substrate. For all the reasons I've mentioned, the majority of discus keepers grow out their juveniles in bare bottom aquariums.

On a final note, growing out young juvenile discus in a community tank also increases the likelihood of behavioral problems, especially when the other fish are larger and faster moving.
Thanks for the information. Can you elaborate on stunt growth. What are the signs I have to lookout for.
 
What is the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH of the water?
If there is a water quality issue, the fish will be stressed and nervous. If fish ever become nervous, check the water quality and do a big (75%) water change and see if it helps.
 
What is the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH of the water?
If there is a water quality issue, the fish will be stressed and nervous. If fish ever become nervous, check the water quality and do a big (75%) water change and see if it helps.
I don't have a Test kit ATM. When the lights are off they School fine. The Breeder I got them from had kept the tank covered from Stable light and Natural light. So I guess it was the LED light which was stressing them. I also have another problem, they were fed sinking food. It will take them awhile to adjust to the light and eat floating pellets. I'm only concerned of stunt growth and how regular I gota change water without messing up my water plants.
 
Do a big (75%) water change and gravel clean the substrate at least once a week. You gravel clean the areas without plants growing in it, and leave a couple of inches of undisturbed gravel around each plant.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

If you add some floating plants to the tank it will shade the tank and help the fish settle down sooner. However, they should settle down in a week or so.

If fish are ever nervous/ skittish, test the water and do a big water change. A big water change will help dilute anything bad in the tank and usually helps reduce the nervous behaviour.

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TURNING LIGHTS ON AND OFF
Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.

Try to have the lights on at the same time each day. Use a timer if possible.

If the light unit is programmable, have it on a low setting for the first 30-60 minutes and increase the brightness over time. Do the opposite in the evening and gradually reduce the light for the last 30-60 minutes before lights out.

If you don't have live plants in the tank, you only need the light on for a few hours in the evening. You might turn them on at 4 or 5pm and off at 9pm.

If you do have live plants in the tank, you can have the lights on for 8-16 hours a day but the fish and plants need 8 hours of darkness to rest. Most people with live plants in their aquarium will have the lights on for 8-12 hours a day.

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LIGHTING TIMES
Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it for a couple of weeks.
If you get a small amount of green algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the first few sets of leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off.

Plant lights should have equal amount of red and blue light and a bit less green light.
 
Thanks for the information. Can you elaborate on stunt growth. What are the signs I have to lookout for.
By the time you notice it'll be too late. For best results you need to keep the water temperature above 28C, 30C is better. Many discus keepers will grow out juveniles at 32C, but that's not really necessary.

You'll need to feed them at least 4 times daily a good quality, high protein food. It's a good idea to vary the diet, flake food, mini-granules, and some live, frozen or freeze dried worms if possible. If you only feed them on a single food, they will reject anything else later on. Your fish appear to be 2-3 months old and this period of their life is critical to their development. Follow the above advice until they are 6 months old and you'll be good to go.

Trying to do this in a planted tank with larger, faster fish is going to be difficult.
 
28C is fine for them and you can raise it to 30C+ if they get sick. If you keep them at 30C+ you can't increase the temperature if they do get sick.

28C will also reduce the power bill. Have coverglass on the tank to help with this and insulate the back and sides with 1 inch thick polystyrene foam sheets. Just tape them to the outside on the back and sides of the aquarium. They help trap heat and help reduce the power bill.
 
28C is fine for them and you can raise it to 30C+ if they get sick. If you keep them at 30C+ you can't increase the temperature if they do get sick.
Okay thanks, I'm wondering how come wild Discus got Big eyes propotinate to their body size than captive bred Discus.
 
I think you have the answer to the question - they are demanding for people in temperate zones because they need such warm water. That's an expense. And that warm water has to be changed a lot. Discus are work.
 
I was told by the breeder to syphon the leftover food and daily fillup 1 inch of water in a low tech setup. I got 2 issues for now. One is that I don't use a bare-bottom tank. Two is that my Discus don't feed on floating pellets since I got them. They were fed only ox heart. Plebian made a valuable comment on diversified meals. So is too late for the juveniles to accept a range of meals are my concerns. I guess I'll have to wait and see.
 
28C is fine for them and you can raise it to 30C+ if they get sick. If you keep them at 30C+ you can't increase the temperature if they do get sick.
This is false. Discus can easily handle 32C if necessary, though I doubt it's actually helpful if they're sick. If they're sick, you have other issues.
 
they won't work in your aquarium - fundamentally the temp is incompatible with your existing fishes. Also they require a large tank - you didn't say how many discus or how many gallons your aquarium is - but this is my 180 and i really think it should have been a 350 gallon; this is for 10 discus.

As for plants not doing well with discus that is hogwash; discus actually prefer plants. The issue is people like to feed young discus very heavy protein rich food like beef heart that is extremely messy and pollutes the water and if that crap gets into the substrate it will impede water quality in a major way. Don't get me wrong that is a method for maximizing discus size but imho it is not a good way to raise discus.

There are substrates that are better at not allowing stuff to penetrate them (denser substrate) and that will improve in the cleaning but regardless the more water and space you have the better. These guys are only around 5 inches - while wild caught they never hide or react badly (but it did take me 3 or 4 weeks to get there as they were very stressed initially); they do greatly prefer blackworms so i tend to feed them a bit too much of it with lots of greens - i make sure every feeding they get a very good helping of greens.

My recommendation from the very short period of time i've had discus (approx 3 months); a min. of 200 gallons for 6 discus; warm temp - the younger they are the higher the temp - these guys will get very very fussy if the temp drops below 82.5; younger discus are going to want 84-86 all the time and heckels even higher. I use very soft acidic water but that is partially because they are wild caught and because i can - it is not strictly required for tank raised fishes.

Hum. I guess that is it for today; in 12 to 18 months i might have more experience to make more comments.

How big is your aquarium ?

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I pretty much agree with the post by anewbie above and will just add two things.

Many Discus fanatics choose to go down the heavily planted route which can be particularly beneficial to Symphysodon aequifasciatus due to the amount of cover afforded by such a setup. Discus are very shy, skittish fish and require as much cover as possible to feel comfortable.
from Seriouslyfish.com

I was taught not to feed beef heart to anything. This was reinforced by a presentation made by Dr. Stephan Tanner of Swiss Tropicals at a presentation he made and one of the NEC weekend events where I was a vendor. His was the only presentation which I closed my vendor space to hear. He made it a point to tell us we should not do this.
(I refer to it as bee farts.)

Many years ago....
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